A Blog on Cinema

RIP Kalamandalam Hyderali


Kathakali, the dance form which originated in Kerala tells stories from the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and usually the performances are done by Hindus.

So imagine the oddity when a Muslim decides to perform Kathakali and the social and religious objections it would have raised. Kathakali is usually performed in temples and this meant that the Muslim would not be able to enter the stage.

Kalamandalam Hyderali became the first Muslim Kathakali artiste, overcame all those restrictions and tauts from fundamentalists in both religions and became an icon in the field.

In central Kerala, the outer wall of a shrine was demolished and a stage constructed in such a manner that Hyderali could sing from `outside’ the temple.Hyderali was blessed with a voice that could tackle anything in Kathakali music. With equal felicity, he sang romantic verses, lullabies, devotional lyrics and fast-paced battle songs. His voice conjured up the romance of Nala and Damayanti as effectively as it did the vileness of Kali or the fierceness of Duryodhana and Ravana. His voice weaved magic into passages such as `Vijane Batha,’ `Mariman Kanni’ and `Ajitha Hare.’

His solo rendering of the lyrics of `Nalacharitham IV’ at a performance in Kottayam was so appealing that veteran Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair told him, “In future, I don’t want you to be supported by another singer when you sing these lines.” [Kathakali’s progressive singer]

He died in car accident in Thrissur on Jan 5, 2006.


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  2. If some muslims are opposing learning “Bharathanatyam”, does not mean that all muslims are doing that. Bharathanatyam should be supported as a common dance instead of a religious dance.

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